It’s been a tough run to the Central West AFL finals but coach Will Bunt believes it may work out for his side in the long run.
The Demons have been assured of a fourth-placed finish and finals for several weeks now but the positivty around that has been offset by the fact the men in red and blue have failed to beat a top three sides this season.
That has led some to question whether the Dubbo side is a legitimate contender but Bunt said the losses to the Bathurst Bushranger Outlaws and Orange Tigers, as well as Saturday’s match against the competition leading Bushranger Rebels has helped him pinpoint exactly where his side needs to be better.
“If you’re winning easy every week then you can fall into a false sense of security and we’ve been playing the top three sides and even though we’ve loss it’s highlighted our deficiencies and we’ve been able to work on that,” Bunt said.
This weekend’s match at South Dubbo Oval is a test for the Demons as the Rebels, guaranteed to finish as minor premiers, have only lost once all season.
A win would be a massive result for the Demons heading into next weekend’s finals and while that is what Bunt and his side is striving for, the coach would be pleased to see his side produce a compeititve and committed performance.
“The big thing is we’re already in fourth and already in the finals and anything can happen from there,” he said.
“But we need form and confidence for our own benefit, if nothing else, and also to make other sides take a bit of notice of us.”
Player availability has been one of the biggest issues for Bunt and assistant Shayne Wilesmith to deal with this season and despite this being the final home game of the year it is no different.
Ben Patterson, Ryan Woolfe and Kim Woodman will all be missing on Saturday, with the latter’s absence particularly painful for Bunt as his experience would have been "vital”.
“You’ve got to be confident because if you beat yourself beforehand then you’re no chance,” Bunt said, staying positive before the Rebels come to town.
“It’s a home game for us us and it’s also a 10-year anniversary of the 2007 premiership winners so there will be a big crowd and a vocal crowd and it will be nice to be on the right side of that.”
The Dubbo club is celebrating the anniversary of the 2007 title triumph at South Dubbo Oval and current Demons coach Bunt has invited the players from that side to speak to the 2017 team prior to and during Saturday’s game against Rebels.
“They’ll come into the warm-up and get in the sheds and have a talk and hopefully it lifts some of our blokes seeing that enthusiasm,” Bunt said.
“Having those blokes there who have a done a fair bit in their careers will be good.”
The Demons defeated the Bathurst Bushrangers 20.10.130 to 16.12.108 in the 2007 grand final at South Dubbo Oval.
Terry Lyons, part of the Demons side this year until a series of head knocks, captained Dubbo that day.
Saturday’s match against the Rebels starts at 2.30pm, with the women’s game at 12.45pm preceding it.
The Demons women, who play Parkes, are almost certain to finish second.